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Long Vacant St. Louis Union Station Reopened 30 Years Ago

Tomorrow marks 30 years since Union station reopened as a “festival marketplace.”

A festival marketplace is a realization by James W. Rouse and the Rouse Company in the United States of an idea conceived by Benjamin C. Thompson of Benjamin Thompson and Associates for European style markets taking hold in the United States in an effort to revitalize downtown areas in major US cities in the late 20th century. Festival marketplaces were a leading downtown revitalization strategy in American cities during the 1970s and 1980s. The guiding principles are a mix of local tenants instead of chain stores, design of shop stalls and common areas to energize the space, and uncomplicated architectural ornament in order to highlight the goods. (Wikipedia)

This occurred just as I was starting my freshman year of college — studying architecture. The reimagining of Union Station, and other historic buildings, was influential during my college years. Just 5 years before reopening, Union Station looked so bad its Grand Hall was used as the location of a big fight scene in Escape From New York!

As noted yesterday, I moved to St. Louis just 5 years after Union Station reopened. At that time the retail portion of Union Station was still doing well. It’s impossible to say how well it would’ve done if it hadn’t received competition from downtown’s St. Louis Centre mall and the Westroads Shopping Center not been rebuilt into the Saint Louis Galleria. Lacking big anchors the retail probably would’ve declined regardless of competition.

When it reopened in 1985 the midway contained glass retail booths. These have been removed, the midway is now event space. October 2011 photo
When it reopened in 1985 the midway contained glass retail booths. These have been removed, the midway is now event space. October 2011 photo

Some history:

On September 1, 1894 St. Louis Union Station opened as the largest, most beautiful terminal in the United States. This enormous project was built at the cost of $6.5 million. The gem of this new Station was the Grand Hall with its gold leaf, Romanesque arches, 65-foot barrel vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows. The most magnificent of these stained glass windows is the “Allegorical Window” which is majestically framed by the famous “Whispering Arch.”

Just beyond the Head house was the Midway, which was the midway point where friends bid farewell or welcomed home visitors from across the nation and around the world. In its heyday in the mid 1940’s, the Midway was the spot where over 100,000 passengers a day traversed on their way to or from a train. The platform area was covered by an enormous single-span train shed designed by George H. Pegram. This was not only one of the largest train sheds ever built, but it also covered the greatest number of tracks. After World War II, the general public began choosing other forms of transportation. In 1976, this magnificent station was designated a National Historic Landmark. Finally, on October 31, 1978, the last train pulled out of St. Louis Union Station. (Union Station)

What this doesn’t say is the newly formed Amtrak (1971) ceased using the head house a few years before the last train left in 1978. Many wished train service was still at Union Station, but the back in train shed just doesn’t work well for low volume train stations.

The Grand Hall in Union Station. Photo by William Zbaren from the book American City: St. Louis Architecture
The Grand Hall in Union Station. Photo by William Zbaren from the book American City: St. Louis Architecture — used with permission

Yes, the very same space where the Escape From New York fight scene was filmed. I’m very glad outside developers & bankers saw what locals couldn’t.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Second Lucky’s Market Now Open In St. Louis Region

In November I posted about the first Lucky’s Market in our region — occupying a space in Ellisville built by Straub’s just a few years before. If you haven’t heard of Luckty’s Market before:

The Lucky’s Market chain was started by a husband-and-wife team 12 years ago in Colorado. As two chefs, the couple wanted a grocery store for food lovers like themselves, so they opened their first store in 2003 to sell specialty foods at affordable prices.

“We really work to meet people on their personal food journey by simply making natural foods more accessible, and doing so in a comfortable and welcoming store environment,” said Krista Torvik, a representative of Lucky’s Market.

Lucky’s sells “never ever” meats, which have never been treated with antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. In addition, customers will be able to find local produce, fresh seafood and baked goods (like maple bacon doughnuts!), alongside bacon that’s been cured and smoked in-house and homemade sausage.

The market also offers ready-to-eat meats, salads and sides that are made in-store daily, plus fresh juices and smoothies at its juice bar.

For shoppers’ convenience, Lucky’s Market still sells consumer favorites like Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup, and the store has a bulk items section. (Ft. Lauderdale Daily)

The new location is at 9530 Manchester Rd, in Rock Hill, much later than originally planned:

The company originally planned to open the Rock Hill store in the first quarter of 2014, but was delayed while the developer, Webster Groves-based Novus Development Co., worked out a funding agreement including a community improvement district with the city.

In the year of delay, the store added over 12,000 square feet to the building plans, Chief Growth Officer Mike Phillips said. Though the company would not disclose construction costs, Vice President of Marketing Ben Friedland said it kept costs as low as possible by using refurbished and used equipment and materials in order to give customers the low prices the grocer advertises. (St. Louis Business Journal)

This is their 13th location nationwide.

The Rock Hill Lucky's Market during the building expansion.
The Rock Hill Lucky’s Market during the building expansion in November 2014.

For 5 years in the early 1990s I worked for a general contractor out of his house located exactly where this store is now! The Schnucks at Manchester & Brentwood is a mile to the East, a Dierbergs Market is a mile to the West — it opened when I worked in the area.

Monday we attended the soft opening as guests of a personal friend who works there. The store opened on Wednesday.
Monday we attended the soft opening as guests of a personal friend who works there. The store opened on Wednesday.
Inside the new Lucky's Market
Inside the new Lucky’s Market

With this Rock Hill location Lucky’s Markets operates 13 stores in 10 states. Five more locations are “coming soon” including one in an 11th state.

By comparison, Trader Joe’s has 457 locations in 39 states and Washington D.C., Whole Foods has 408 locations in 42 U.S. states.  In February 2013 Whole Foods announced a 3rd St. Louis area location, in the Central West End. It was supposed to open by this Fall — but will now open in 2016.

On the other end of the scale, we have local stores like Local Harvest & Fields Foods in the City of St. Louis. It would be interesting to compare the selection & prices at these local stores to places like Lucky’s Market & Whole Foods.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Majority of Readers Excited About IKEA St. Louis Opening Soon

In the recent Sunday Poll a solid majority (68.63%) indicated — no surprise — positive feelings about IKEA opening soon. Those who were neutral outweighed the negative, 19.61% vs 11.76%.

I don't like that it's set back from Forest Park Blvd, but glad they'll have two wide walkways from the public sidewalk through the parking lot to reach the entry.
I don’t like that it’s set back from Forest Park Blvd, but glad they’ll have two wide walkways from the public sidewalk through the parking lot to reach the entry.

I’ve shopped at 7 different IKEA stores over the last 25 years, always while traveling. This will be a new experience being able to go anytime I want. As rumors of the store were circling a few years ago I said, as a big box, it belonged in suburbia. I still feel that way. It lowers the bar for the redevelopment of the area. I can only hope that so many others want to locate in close proximity that everything about the IKEA is more urban than the IKEA itself.

Here are the results:

Q: How do you feel about IKEA St. Louis opening in 45 days:

  1. Excited 18 [35.29%]
  2. TIE 10 19.61%
    1. Somewhat excited
    2. Meh (Neutral)
  3. Very excited 7 [13.73%]
  4. TIE 3 [5.88%]
    1. Disinterested
    2. Very disinterested
  5. TIE 0 [0%]
    1. Somewhat disinterested
    2. Unsure/No Answer

Follow the various pre-Grand Opening events here.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Sunday Poll: How Do You Feel About IKEA St. Louis Opening In 45 Days?

IKEA St. Louis’ big blue & yellow box opens in 45 days.Today’s poll seek to gauge reader thoughts on this new retail option

 

Please vote above and comment below, the poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Work Portion of Live/Work Units Must Be Wheelchair Accessible

For a couple of years I’ve been watching & writing about changes at 901 Locust St. The former Board of Education building, built in 1893, was converted into loft-style apartments at least a decade ago. The ground-floor retail space, however, has struggled.

So the building’s new owner removed the old storefronts and installed new ones — more open. I questioned how these spaces would meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and building codes:

1103.2.13 Live/work units. In live/work units constructed in accordance with Section 419, the portion of the unit utilized for nonresidential use is required to be accessible. The residential portion of the live/work unit is required to be evaluated separately in accordance with Sections 1107.6.2 and 1107.7.

Live/work units are dwelling units in which a significant portion of the space includes a nonresidential use operated by the tenant/owner. Although the entire unit is classified as a Group R-2 occupancy, for accessibility purposes it is viewed more as a mixed-use condition. The residential portion of the unit is regulated differently for accessibility purposes than the nonresidential portion.

The floor area of the dwelling unit that is intended for residential use is regulated under the provisions of Section 1107.6.2 for Group R-2 occupancies. The requirements for an Accessible unit, Type A unit or Type B unit would be applied based upon the specific residential use of the unit and the number of units in the structure. The exceptions for Type A and Type B units set forth in Section 1107.7 would also exempt such units where applicable. For example, a two story dwelling unit above the work unit in a non-elevator building would never be subject to Type B requirements due to the exemption in Section 1107.7.2. The code does not clarify if a two story live/work unit with the business on the entire first floor and the residence on the entire second floor would be considered a multi-story dwelling unit for purposes of the exception in Section 1107.7.2.

In the nonresidential portion of the unit, full accessibility would be required based upon the intended use. For example, if the nonresidential area of the unit is utilized for hair care services, all elements related to the service activity must be accessible. This would include site parking where provided, site and building accessible routes, the public entrance, and applicable patron services. In essence, the work portion of the live/work unit would be regulated in the same manner as a stand-alone commercial occupancy.  (International Code Council)

In May 2014 I showed the new storefronts going in but obvious changes in grade along 9th St
In May 2014 I showed the new storefronts going in but obvious changes in grade along 9th St

Perhaps one big retail space with an accessible entry off Locust? A 24/7 pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens? Nope, the owner has built apartments on the ground floor — billing them as “live/work” units.

901 Locust
901 Locust

The six live/work units range from $1,295/mo for a 760 sq ft one bedroom to $1,995/mo for a 2,480 sq ft 2-story 2-bed unit. All include another entrance connecting to the building, but it’s not clear how disabled customers would reach these doors, if at all.

The live/work units facing 9th, and the one on the Locust corner, are not directly accessible from the sidewalk.
The live/work units facing 9th, and the one on the Locust corner, are not directly accessible from the sidewalk.
One space doesn't appear to be live/work, but it might be. Haven't checked this ramp yet but it doesn't appear to be ADA-conpliant .
One space doesn’t appear to be live/work, but it might be. Haven’t checked this ramp yet but it doesn’t appear to be ADA-conpliant .
Two live/work units do have accessible public entrances -- both off Locust
Two live/work units do have accessible public entrances — both off Locust
Unfortunately, I expect we'll see a lot of closed blinds
Unfortunately, I expect we’ll see a lot of closed blinds

If you rent one of the spaces without direct sidewalk access please note your business will be responsible for ADA compliance.

 

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